A symposium on liver disease was held in Jeddah on Dec. 1992. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) which is prevalent in hepatitis B carriers, is one of the malignant tumours with the highest mortality.
A study conducted in Jeddah strongly supported the role, of hepatitis B and C in the development of liver carcinoma in Saudi Arabia.
Since HCC, is asymptomatic in its early stages, clinical presentation is usually late, when the tumour is inoperable. However, the successful resection rate of early tumours is high. Primary prevention, therefore, is the goal. This includes the screening for vaccination against hepatitis B and should in the near future be included in health education.
Early detection and diagnosis is possible through serology markers – serum–alfa–fetoprotein (AFP) and GTT–isoenzymes.
AFP is sensitive and inexpensive, and is suitable for HCC screening of hepatitis B carriers in whom its sudden rise is significant. Early diagnosis of HCC, at this stage, can be confirmed by sonography and CT scan.
It is recommended that serum AFP levels be used for screening hepatitis B carriers in hospitals and PHC centers, in Saudi Arabia.